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In connection with the moderator elections, we are holding a Q&A thread for the candidates. Questions collected from an earlier thread have been compiled into this one, which shall now serve as the space for the candidates to provide their answers.

We've selected the 7 positively scored submissions. Though one of them is compound of several submissions, in a sense. At any rate, alongside one of our backup questions, this brings us to 10 questions total.

As a candidate, your job is simple - post an answer to this question, citing each of the questions and then post your answer to each question given in that same answer. For your convenience, I will include all of the questions in quote format with a break in between each, suitable for you to insert your answers. Just copy the whole thing after the first set of three dashes.Please consider putting your name at the top of your post so that readers will know who you are before they finish reading everything you have written, and also including a link to your answer on your nomination post.

Once all the answers have been compiled, this will serve as a transcript for voters to view the thoughts of their candidates, and will be appropriately linked in the Election page.

Good luck to all of the candidates!

Oh, and when you've completed your answer, please provide a link to it after this blurb here, before that set of three dashes. Please leave the list of links in the order of submission.

To save scrolling here are links to the submissions from each candidate (in order of submission):

Magisch

Mister Positive

DarkCygnus


  1. The Workplace gets a lot of hot questions on provocative topics. Sometimes the questions seem so incredible that people question whether they are genuine. Sometimes the questions seem genuine but evoke strong negative reactions. Either way, these questions attract a lot of attention, comments, flags, and discussion in chat. How should questions like these be moderated?

  2. Concerns have been raised about how welcoming we are to (a) newcomers, (b) marginalized people, and (c) those from outside the IT field. Some say we are not welcoming enough, and others say we go too far or do not properly evaluate vocal claims. In your opinion, how are we as a site doing in this area, what do we need to do differently (if anything), and how will you as a moderator address the situation? If you feel we have a problem now, what have you personally done about it already? In answering, consider interactions with new or marginalized users, established users, other moderators, and the greater Stack Exchange community.

  3. Comments: They are the bane of any site that wants to maintain a good signal:noise ratio, harmless, something in between? What do you think about comments and the moderation thereof on The Workplace, and what would you like to change about it? For context, we had over 8,000 comments posted on The Workplace in the past month.

  4. What do you feel are the top two or three challenges currently facing our site? How do you think we should address them?

  5. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

  6. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

  7. If, upon election, you had the power to create a new flag reason (hypothetically, as this will not happen), what would it be and why? How would this help moderation, the users, and the quality of the site?

  8. A significant proportion of our new questions get put on hold. Do you see this as a problem? If yes, what can we do to improve the situation?

  9. What is your view on current moderation policy on this site? Is there anything in particular you disagree with? If so, why? How would you reconcile this with needing to work with existing moderators?

  10. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

18

I'm Magisch and these are my answers to your questions. My nomination can be found here. I also answered a series of questions directed at me in the election chat room, starting here.

  1. The Workplace gets a lot of hot questions on provocative topics. Sometimes the questions seem so incredible that people question whether they are genuine. Sometimes the questions seem genuine but evoke strong negative reactions. Either way, these questions attract a lot of attention, comments, flags, and discussion in chat. How should questions like these be moderated?

A post notice "Controversial topic" exists for a lot of those questions. Generally then, comments should be moved to chat (consolidated) and increased attention should be paid to keeping unnecessary comments off. I disagree with blanket forbidding all commenting on such questions, but the chatty ones should be moved to chat and further chatty ones deleted (or also moved to chat should the overlords at Stack Exchange ever implement that feature request).

Unless a scenario is blatantly contrived and not real, I don't think it's the moderator's role to police genuineness of a question. The best way to handle these is to just keep a close eye on comments and answers, although deleting answers should be done only with extreme care. These questions tend to generate a lot of flags, and sometimes people get heated in their answers, but I think the community already does a good job toning unnecessary heated tone down sufficiently by criticism and editing.

  1. Concerns have been raised about how welcoming we are to (a) newcomers, (b) marginalized people, and (c) those from outside the IT field. Some say we are not welcoming enough, and others say we go too far or do not properly evaluate vocal claims. In your opinion, how are we as a site doing in this area, what do we need to do differently (if anything), and how will you as a moderator address the situation? If you feel we have a problem now, what have you personally done about it already? In answering, consider interactions with new or marginalized users, established users, other moderators, and the greater Stack Exchange community.

I think this is a multifaceted issue and not as simple as being more welcoming towards new users or not conscientous enough about established users. At the core of the sometimes really bad new user experience this network in general and this site in particular sometimes offers is a miscommunication about expectations. No matter how much we want it, almost nobody reads the help center. As a result, a lot of people come in here expecting a normal "traditional" forum-style experience and are sorely disappointed when it doesn't work out that way. Downvotes and close votes sometimes can feel personal, in fact I wrote about that in a different context just yesterday. I think, targeted attacks notwithstanding (which we can all agree should be come down on like a ton of bricks), the core of our issue is setting expectations.

So I do believe we have room for improvement in being welcoming towards new users, by being more conscientous and careful when explaining site conventions and guiding them towards asking and answering properly. To that end, personally since the whole issue came up I have addressed this by being more careful when weighing moderation actions and my votes, and by explaining more in comments where I otherwise wouldn't have. Often times, the pile-on effect is what is causing the actual frustration and negative reactions by these new users, so I've been more careful to not unnecessarily pile on with votes. Yes, bad questions should always be promptly closed and downvoted while they're bad, but shifting a question from -10 to -11 is personally unnecessary. The message has already been sent.

Furthermore, I believe this community does need to be more open towards users that are not part of the IT industry. It sometimes feels like we're "The IT Workplace", and that's unnecessarily restrictive and yes, unwelcoming. To that end a lot of discussion on meta was had, and I think we need to further re-examine our closing habits on that front. I don't believe it's the moderator's job to enforce this though, as closing is mainly a community handled activity.

I do believe the moderators already do a fine job of getting rid of actual harassment and attacks, and moreover I think they're fairly rare (I have come across a couple at best in my time here, and all of them were swiftly dealt with, sometimes in the order of seconds rather then minutes)

  1. Comments: They are the bane of any site that wants to maintain a good signal:noise ratio, harmless, something in between? What do you think about comments and the moderation thereof on The Workplace, and what would you like to change about it? For context, we had over 8,000 comments posted on The Workplace in the past month.

Comments are often an important part of shaping an initially poor question or undefined question into something good and answerable. To that end, they're great. Furthermore, they're often used to suss out inconsistencies in an answer or to improve it. To that end, they're also great. But especially on topics where everyone has an opinion, they can also be a bane. Almost nobody is immune to this. I've caught myself writing what amounts to short answers in comments and arguing unnecessarily. To that end, I need to personally improve.

In general, I think this site could do with a lot less comments, and a lot of them are worth deleting or moving to chat (especially moving to chat). Obviously 8000 comments a month generates a lot of work for the site's moderators, but I think generally their handling has been fine so far.

I don't think there's a lot of potential for change in the commenting system itself. A good one would probably be to rate-limit comments, especially from users who are just passing by due to HNQ. I feel like a large amount of just off topic comments come from users getting carried away in an argument, and a rate limit would offer breathing room to calm down before continuing.

  1. What do you feel are the top two or three challenges currently facing our site? How do you think we should address them?
  1. Answers and full on arguments in comments

Its oh so tempting, especially with a site where most questions lend themselves really well to having an opinion, to start a discussion in the comments. These are usually messy, they bypass the voting system to ascertain quality, and they're hard to follow completly. I think rate limits for comments would be a worthy solution to that, as I alluded to in my answer towards the previous question.

  1. HNQ and the incentive it sets

A lot of us hate the current HNQ, and for good reason. It favors controversial topics over valueable ones, and sets an indirect incentive to post questions like that. I'd love for there to be changes to the HNQ as suggested in the giant discussion about it from last year so that HNQ rewards high quality questions instead of just controversial ones. I realize I'm somewhat of a hyppocrite for saying this, seeing as my personal reputation is in no small part due to HNQ upvotes, but still.

  1. Stopping this site from turning into "The IT Workplace"

I think a lot has been done on that front, but we're still perilously fast to sometimes close questions for what I feel are inappropriate reasons. I don't think moderator fiat can change any of that, but the ongoing scrutiny on meta needs to continue to be applied to closings.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

In line with the theory of moderation, suspensions are a measure of last resort. In general, when someone generates a lot of flags, a problematic pattern can be identified in their behavior. Often times, pointing that out and making specific recommendations to curb it is enough for the problematic behavior to end. To that end, I would start by sending a moderator message pointing out the problem and suggesting a path towards solution. If no improvement is found, and multiple attempts to improve have failed, a timed suspension can be considered if the user's disruptiveness outweighs their positive contributions.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

It depends. If the action was a procedural error (like misclicked an action and didn't notice, or a situation involving privilegedc information that cannot be publicly discussed), I would ping them in the internal moderator chatroom and talk about it there first.

If it's a normal "I don't think this was quite the right call" type disagreement, I would take it to meta like you normally would. I think there is tremendous value in having these types of conversations in the open.

  1. If, upon election, you had the power to create a new flag reason (hypothetically, as this will not happen), what would it be and why? How would this help moderation, the users, and the quality of the site?

"This post is generating a high amount of off-topic discussion"

This would essentially be a prompter (currently done via custom flags) for mods to stop budding out of control discussions while they arise. Faster response time to these means things can be moved to chat earlier and heated arguments can be de-escalated before they erupt. In total that would

  1. reduces total moderator workload

  2. reduces the amount of time the community spends on heated discussions

  3. allows for more focus on improving the post rather then arguing

  1. A significant proportion of our new questions get put on hold. Do you see this as a problem? If yes, what can we do to improve the situation?

Thats a function of the same problem I alluded to in my answer to question 2, a failure to communicate our expectations better. There is not a lot we as a community can do for this before a post is created, but we definitely can improve in the area of guiding OP towards forming a good question once that happened. Of course, it'll still be put on hold then, but a question put on hold and then reopened is still a net win for the site, so I'm not too concerned about closage statistics. If people are using their close votes to close questions while they are being refined into something answerable, that's good.

  1. What is your view on current moderation policy on this site? Is there anything in particular you disagree with? If so, why? How would you reconcile this with needing to work with existing moderators?

Nothing in particular stands out. I'm sure there'll be non-fundamental disagreements, but the current crop of moderators strikes me as a reasonable bunch, so I'm sure any disagreements can be solved in consensus and with the community. I'm not worried there.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

Broadly speaking:

  • Handle flags and situations the community can not. Mods are "human exception handlers"
  • Lead by example in conduct and writing
  • Guide and assist the community in forming consensus
  • NOT take over intrinsically community-based jobs like closing
  • NOT dictate how the community should be run
  • ensure smooth conduct and operation on the site with minimal intervention ("light touch")
  • 3.,4.,7. Don't you think one problem particularly endemic on WP.SE is where the question title, question context, and question body are three separate/incompatible/conflicting things? Just today saw yet another example. In such cases, comments are not the problem, merely a symptom of a woefully unclear question. The comments are actively attempting to help remedy things. But what's the solution? (taking a chainsaw to the comments ain't it) Putting on hold? – smci Feb 13 at 1:48
  • @smci I think there's no moderator induced shortcut to that problem. People who understand what OP wants (or they need to find out) need to edit the question and title to fit the context and what OP is looking for. Generally, this community is already pretty good at that, but it's just a fundamental challenge of the subject matter – Magisch Feb 13 at 7:56
  • @Magisch: I'm saying I very strongly oppose 7. a new flag "This post is generating a high amount of off-topic discussion", since it would be heavily misused. And doesn't really add much. I don't deny there's some amount of off-topic discussion, but it's very common to dismiss on-topic discussion as being off-topic. If your intent is to flag troll and/or bad HNQ questions (which admittedly is a problem), then I'd address that more directly. – smci Feb 13 at 19:14
  • 1
    And here's a blatant example of vague/conflicting question details, inadequate context, made worse by user edits. Agreed this is not a moderator issue, but it's a PITA on WP.SE, esp. when this is amplified by HNQ. How has that question not been put on hold yet? Do people see this as a major issue with WP? (I do) – smci Feb 13 at 21:26
  • 2
    You seem to have a pretty strong opinion on the HNQ stuff. Unsure we need a block of mods trying to force their agenda on that issue. Consensus in TWP so far (not IP) is for it to remain as normal. – Kilisi Feb 14 at 7:06
  • 6
    @Kilisi I'm not interested in forcing my opinion on the HNQ issue. As far as I'm concerned, the community here has reached a consensus to leave it as it is. Moderators aren't supposed to force policy anyways, their job is at most guiding the community towards a consensus (which has happened, so) – Magisch Feb 14 at 7:13
  • 1
    @Magisch cool, just clearing that up – Kilisi Feb 14 at 7:33
  • @smci Those questions you linked to are not particularly troublesome. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Feb 14 at 16:52
9

Answers from Mister Positive

  1. The Workplace gets a lot of hot questions on provocative topics. Sometimes the questions seem so incredible that people question whether they are genuine. Sometimes the questions seem genuine but evoke strong negative reactions. Either way, these questions attract a lot of attention, comments, flags, and discussion in chat. How should questions like these be moderated?

Except in a very number of situations, it is not the responsibility of any moderator to decide if a question is real or not. We don't have a sure fire way to know if a user is trolling. (In most cases)

Our community does a pretty good job of self moderating. The best way to keep the situation contained in my mind is to keep the disruptive comments in check. I do not believe that comments are evil, but they certainly can have an adverse effect with HNQ, and I think this is where a moderator can help by moving them to chat or deleting where appropriate.

There is also the Controversial Post Notice that can be applied.

  1. Concerns have been raised about how welcoming we are to (a) newcomers, (b) marginalized people, and (c) those from outside the IT field. Some say we are not welcoming enough, and others say we go too far or do not properly evaluate vocal claims. In your opinion, how are we as a site doing in this area, what do we need to do differently (if anything), and how will you as a moderator address the situation? If you feel we have a problem now, what have you personally done about it already? In answering, consider interactions with new or marginalized users, established users, other moderators, and the greater Stack Exchange community.

As a moderator, if a complaint is raised by a user, regardless of their reputation, we need to do the proper investigation to determine the validity of it, and if valid respond accordingly.

In some cases the perception of our site is justified. Sometimes people do not like straight forward, to the point answers. Some users prefer, and even require, a bit of syntax sugar. A lot of our members are straight to the point type of people.

As a community, we can all do better to be more welcoming. We can all do better at trying to edit a question before casting a vote. At the same time, some users will refuse to read the Welcome Page, not bother to check and see if a similar question has been asked, or even ask a clearly answerable question. In these cases a VTC is appropriate.

Regardless of the action taken, being nice throughout this process will go along way in changing that perception.

  1. Comments: They are the bane of any site that wants to maintain a good signal:noise ratio, harmless, something in between? What do you think about comments and the moderation thereof on The Workplace, and what would you like to change about it? For context, we had over 8,000 comments posted on The Workplace in the past month.

I do not believe comments are evil. I do however think comments are easily abused, and we as a community need to be diligent in their proper use. For example, a clear answer in a comment is not good. It cannot be voted on, so it is like a free pass to just post stuff without cost ( except comments can be deleted by the community with enough flags ).

On the other hand, an example of where a comment is a good thing but not directly related to the question is when a new user is asking a controversial question along the HR lines, using their real name and picture. Several times I have said in comments "that is not a good idea", and I think that is an appropriate use of comments.

To summarize, I think applying common sense is the best practice when addressing comments.

  1. What do you feel are the top two or three challenges currently facing our site? How do you think we should address them?

Use of comments: The improper use of comments, especially for arguments, full blown answers, and just plain snark cause additional un-necessary chatter ( i.e. more comments and more flags ). As I stated already, comments are not evil, but are easily abused.

User retention (first time users): I think how we treat a first time user is critical. Snarkiness is not our friend. We need to be helpful, courteous, and diligent in making sure the first time user is happy with the experience so that they may become valuable members of our community.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

When dealing with situations, I keep this in mind:

"A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good -- George R.R. Martin."

As a new moderator if the appropriate response to a bad act was not clear, I would consult with my peers to determine the best course of action and then respond accordingly.

I definitely would not just come in and just take action without first observing how others Moderators handled situations like this first.

I would also let someone know when I thought they did a good job handling a situation.

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

In this case, as it is not a time bound issue, I would consult with my peers to determine the best course of action here. I would also seek input from the community via META in order to determine the best course of action for the OP and the community.

  1. If, upon election, you had the power to create a new flag reason (hypothetically, as this will not happen), what would it be and why? How would this help moderation, the users, and the quality of the site?

I feel as though we have enough flag reasons. To play along though:

For questions I think we are fairly well covered. It is either SPAM, Rude or Abuse, or in need of moderator intervention. We could add something along the lines of "Potential HNQ" that could help us head off a slew of potential issues.

For comments we have four reasons that cover all cases I can think of. Not trying to escape the question, I just don't have anything to add as it relates to comments.

  1. A significant proportion of our new questions get put on hold. Do you see this as a problem? If yes, what can we do to improve the situation?

Yes.

I think we need to do a better job of working with the user in editing the question into shape whenever possible FIRST.

If the user doesn't work with us, or a clearly answerable question cannot be cobbled together, then putting the question on hold is the appropriate action.

It should not however be the default choice.

  1. What is your view on current moderation policy on this site? Is there anything in particular you disagree with? If so, why? How would you reconcile this with needing to work with existing moderators?

I have a ton of respect for our moderators and IMO they do a great job. I don't have anything to add in this regard, and have not personally witnessed any abuse of power with our group of moderators.

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

The stackexchange system does a decent job of allowing the appropriate users to self moderate. Once a scenario escalates past the abilities (system capability or user's lack of willingness), this is where moderators come in.

Moderators are keepers of the peace when the citizens of the community cannot manage themselves. Moderators handle the exceptions that cannot be handled by high rep user's who have some moderator privileges.

In short moderators should use their super powers because they have to, not because they can.

My Nomination can be found here.

  • 1
    "I think we need to do a better job of working with the user in editing the question into shape whenever possible FIRST. If the user doesn't work with us, or a clearly answerable question cannot be cobbled together, then putting the question on hold is the appropriate action." - In fact, this is precisely what putting the question on hold is for. If questions require significant changes to be answerable/on-topic here, then they should be closed until those changes can be made. (If it requires much more minor editing to be workable, of course, closure may not be necessary.) – V2Blast Feb 18 at 20:11
  • (Relevant help page: workplace.stackexchange.com/help/closed-questions) – V2Blast Feb 18 at 20:12
  • You emphasize in #6 (another mod closed a question you disagree with) that it's not a time bound issue but in many cases it is, with content getting autodeleted. Moderators can undelete, but the text seems a little misleading as-is. – WBT Feb 18 at 20:27
  • @WBT My main point is that on #6 the situation is that I somehow am notified of the closed question, I can take the time to get input from my peers in a case where the correct course of action is not obvious. I don't think this happens very much, but when it does - especially early on in my moderator career, I would like the input of my peers and in this situation there is no harm in waiting to get it. I hope that clears it up and thank you. – Mister Positive Feb 18 at 22:00
9

DarkCygnus (nomination post)

  1. The Workplace gets a lot of hot questions on provocative topics. Sometimes the questions seem so incredible that people question whether they are genuine. Sometimes the questions seem genuine but evoke strong negative reactions. Either way, these questions attract a lot of attention, comments, flags, and discussion in chat. How should questions like these be moderated?

First, one should check if the question has any problematic content or phrasing that could be reworded. This may save the question from getting tangential comments or evoking such negative or unfocused reactions, while still giving the post a merit of it's own so it can be answered and be helpful to the OP and Community.

If doing this is not possible things get a bit more complex, as the post will now require more constant attention or engagement so things don't get out of hand. If some comments start to deviate those users should be promptly made aware of it, or reminded about our Be Nice policy, in a comment. Hopefully they will understand, but sometimes that is not the case.

If some user is on a "rampage" or really starting to be rude, chances are that the Community already has flagged the content and organically pruned the problem. This would be ideal, as Mods should ultimately be exception handlers and prefer not having to use their powers if possible. If comments are getting tangential or too chatty then other course of action is to politely invite them to The Watercooler to continue the discussion (very dissuasive for users that just want to argue), and depending on the degree of the situation a Mod can move to chat all the comments to put a stop to this.

Depending on the situation, other alternative would be to Protect the post, either organically or manually. This could help stop the flow of comments a bit, and is also useful in the case of questions like this reaching HNQ. Other option is to use our Controversial Post Notice (Meta Thread here) to clearly warn everybody to be extra careful with these posts.

We can see that this answer may be a bit scenario-specific, but there are many options and tools to use for effectively handling them. If I were to be elected and happen to see some comment or content that is clearly and undoubtedly rude, insulting, harassing, etc., I would not doubt to prune/hammer it and present an ultimatum to the offender.

  1. Concerns have been raised about how welcoming we are to (a) newcomers, (b) marginalized people, and (c) those from outside the IT field. Some say we are not welcoming enough, and others say we go too far or do not properly evaluate vocal claims. In your opinion, how are we as a site doing in this area, what do we need to do differently (if anything), and how will you as a moderator address the situation? If you feel we have a problem now, what have you personally done about it already? In answering, consider interactions with new or marginalized users, established users, other moderators, and the greater Stack Exchange community.

I have always been of the opinion that here in The Workplace we are far more welcoming to users in general than in other SE sites (like, say? SO). Since I joined I have felt a more welcoming attitude from many users, and that has made me feel more comfortable and was probably the reason why I stayed.

Now, even though I feel we are decently welcoming in general, what I feel we lack is consistency in doing so.

Sometimes one can see users being "too welcoming", by doing lot's of feedback to OP, swiftly editing, casting reopen votes, etc... but sometimes we can see the opposite, where users just vote to close without giving any feedback or pointers, explaining new users how to make their posts on topic, or even worse, write not-so-nice comments.

So the problem I see here is one of consistency. Personally, I try to maintain a balance with my actions towards users in general. I tend to give a lot of feedback in good or bad posts, edit when I see room for improvement, but also don't hesitate to cast close votes or flag if the situations deserves it (case in which, I also like to give feedback so users can learn and improve)... and that is what I feel we should try to do more to overcome this: maintain a balance in pruning and keeping the site clean, but also be welcoming and provide feedback so users can improve their posting and interaction with the site and its people.

  1. Comments: They are the bane of any site that wants to maintain a good signal:noise ratio, harmless, something in between? What do you think about comments and the moderation thereof on The Workplace, and what would you like to change about it? For context, we had over 8,000 comments posted on The Workplace in the past month.

I think that comments are a double-edged sword.

They can drastically help clarify or point out key aspects that improve the quality of our questions and answers, but at the same time they can completely derail or bias a post, or even become insulting or scare away new users. This is the dual nature of comments, and why they are such a fuzz.

I think that comments should stick to ask for clarification, minor suggestions or improvements, or even useful and constructive observations or corollaries...

...but not to argue about the post, discuss just about why you agree (+1 and move on instead) or disagree (post an answer with your point of view then), point out some tangential or unrelated case based on assumptions, and even less to insult or be rude. If you want to discuss or are feeling chatty The Watercooler is a better place for those things.

  1. What do you feel are the top two or three challenges currently facing our site? How do you think we should address them?

I believe that the questions gathered here reflect some of the main problems we are facing currently, them being the proper use of comments and our welcoming attitude that "scares off" new users.

The welcoming attitude can be solved by practicing consistency with the way we welcome and interact with any user. I explained how in more detail in my answer to question No. 2.

Regarding the proper use of comments, I exposed my thoughts and perception of the situation and its possible solution in my answer to question No. 3. Generally speaking, any user can help by flagging comments responsibly, and mods can help by reviewing those flags and swiftly taking care of more extreme situations.

However, a third problem I see that strongly relates to the others mentioned (specially the comments problem) is that of the HNQ and the overwhelming attention and traffic it generates. We can see this is not only an issue here in TWP, but also in SE in general. For reference, check this SE post about the Twitter Mayhem we had recently, and also this post by Monica that seeks to discuss this situation and device a possible solution.

Currently, I believe the HNQ thing is still an issue and its solution is still a work in progress that the SE Community needs to discuss so we can find a way to overcome it.

  1. How would you deal with a user who produced a steady stream of valuable answers, but tends to generate a large number of arguments/flags from comments?

If the answers are valuable and the problem lies on the comments only then it is a matter of taking care of those comments accordingly (using the techniques described in my answer to question 1).

Alternatively, I would also invite them to chat where I would ask them to stop posting such comments. I usually prefer to give the benefit of doubt, perhaps the user is not on his/her best days, and I would hope that such chat would have an impact on them. If the problems continue to escalate then more serious measures could be taken, and depending on the severity this could even end up with the user winning a time in the penalty box.

The fact that a user has high rep or contributes good answers doesn't excuse them to break the Be Nice policy, and they should take the consequences as any other user would (you may be aware that this has happened to some users in the past).

  1. How would you handle a situation where another mod closed/deleted/etc a question that you feel shouldn't have been?

If another mod did such action on a question it is highly likely that it was for good reasons. In any case, I would contact that Mod and ask him/her to explain his reasons for doing so. After that it is again highly likely that I would agree with the reasons.

However, if I still disagree, the call should fall upon the Community, and a Meta post should be initiated regarding the situation to reach a consensus.

  1. If, upon election, you had the power to create a new flag reason (hypothetically, as this will not happen), what would it be and why? How would this help moderation, the users, and the quality of the site?

I don't think we need more flags, as those that we have already cover the possible situations that are flag-worthy.

In fact, the ideal situation would be that we didn't had to flag at all (in an Utopic world that is), or that flagging is reduced to a minimal amount. IMHO, adding more flags is not taking care of the real problem (noisy/rude comments, scaring off users, etc.) and it would not help solve it.

Instead, we should aim to address such root causes, so the interaction in the site becomes more respectful and polite, reaching a point where the flag-worthy posts are minimal and more manageable.

  1. A significant proportion of our new questions get put on hold. Do you see this as a problem? If yes, what can we do to improve the situation?

Yes and no. If a question is too broad, off-topic or generally poor quality then it's understandable as to why they'd be closed or what have you, but most of the time they're shut down and then no further guidance is given to that person. It's not very welcoming to see a your first post shut down as off-topic when you have a question about your job on a site called The Workplace.

I think more could be done to provide follow-up resources and a clear explanation of actually why it was closed. A new user to the site is not going to know these things. It's a well established fact that most people don't read the Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Rules, Guides and popups you get when you start out new on a site. That's not them being ignorant as such, but more so being new which is something we all do. A link or two for next steps would be very helpful.

  1. What is your view on current moderation policy on this site? Is there anything in particular you disagree with? If so, why? How would you reconcile this with needing to work with existing moderators?

Since I joined TWP, I have developed a high regard and respect for our kind Moderators; their enforcement of the moderation policy is done in a commendable way (never too soft, never too hard).

If I disagree with something, surely it is minimal and expected given everyone's unique point of view. But in general I think our mods carry their jobs very well. If some disagreement is reached, the way to reconcile it is to discuss and reach a consensus. As it is in the Professional environment and workplaces, communication is also key in these situations, so the solutions reached work for everybody (or the majority).

  1. In your opinion, what do moderators do?

I think moderators are exception handlers. (I have even seen some mods throughout SE that refer to themselves as "janitors" of the site... although I don't know if I agree with it, and think they say it more in a joking tone).

The Community already has the power and means to manage and handle edits, votes to close/reopen, flag responsibly, give feedback, protect posts, etc.. Moderators, as their votes are binding, should try to reserve their actions for situations that the Community can't solve organically, or for cases that are obvious or that need to be solved ASAP (say a spam post).

Mods also have to handle and review flags, interact and coordinate themselves with other mods, and many other things for sure. For more reference of what being a TWP mod means, I like this answer from Snow that gives some insights to what being a mod really entails.

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